On May 6th, Stephen P. Morgan shot and killed Wesleyan University student Johanna Justin-Jinich in a popular bookstore right off campus. He turned himself in last night; in the interim, Wesleyan’s campus has practically been in lock-down. A lot of fear has stemmed from Morgan’s journals, where he discussed targeting Jews in sprees.
It’s scary enough as a college student to learn about any such violence on campuses, where we’re supposed to feel safe (granted, this murder took place off campus, but to me, that’s like having a Tufts student murdered at a Boston Ave. restaurant). It’s also alarming to hear of continued anti-Semitism. But what struck me the most was the following:
Authorities have said Morgan and Justin-Jinich have known each other since at least 2007, when Justin-Jinich filed a harassment complaint against him while they were enrolled in a summer class at New York University.
The continuum of sexual violence is a very wide one. One one end are things such as rape jokes, and other social attitudes that perpetuate a culture where sexual violence is okay. On the other end is murder (whether it’s a rape and murder, relationship abuse ending in murder, stalking ending in murder, or harassment ending in murder). While a 2007 complaint does seem like long ago, what’s important to me is that this man had harassed this young woman in the past, to the point where she filed a complaint; clearly, there was something wrong.
And I might have just been able to leave the harassment revelation and move on, except for this:
When police confiscated Morgan’s car they found a journal in which he spelled out a plan to rape and kill Justin-Jinich before going on a campus shooting spree, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is under investigation.
This new information sounded startlingly familiar. It reminded me of the case of Amy Boyer, who was killed by her stalker Liam Youens. While the cases are obviously not exactly alike (although, admittedly, many details about Morgan’s journals have yet to be released), both are examples of young men planning to kill young women, with sexual violence in the picture.
I consider this crime to be a sexually violent one, although Morgan did not rape Justin-Jinich (in the same way that Youens did not rape Boyer). It’s the incorporation of sexually violent attitudes that places these murders on the end of the sexual violence continuum, instead of off the continuum altogether.
We will update you if there any more related information from this case is publicized.
NB: I chose not to discuss the anti-Semitic issues present in this case not because I don’t consider them pertinent, but because I wanted to specifically focus on the sexual violence and related attitudes. I’m aware of the anti-Semitic issues, and you all should be, too, but that ain’t the point of this here blog entry.